It’s second chance saloon on Sunday week for the two in a row Dublin Champions Cuala, who make the trip to O’Moore Park to face the reigning Kilkenny Hurling Champions O’Loughlin Gaels in this years AIB Leinster Senior Hurling Final.
At this particular juncture last year, They fell short to Oulart-The Ballagh, but they have quickly returned for another stab at the prize, and maybe more.
Dublin and Cuala Senior Hurler Mark Schutte is of the belief that this year’s panel is a much better side than last year’s and have already set out their stall with two very convincing wins over Laois Champions Borris-Kilcotton and Carlow Kingpins St. Mullins.
In last year’s Semi Final, Cuala beat the then Kilkenny Champions Clara, and are prepared again to face the best in the Cats’ County.
In Netwatch Cullen Park, Cuala showed their maturity, conceding an early goal, to lead by three at the break and to run out as convincing winner against St. Mullins in this year’s Semi Final.
“We were well aware of the challenge coming down here”, Schutte told the Independent after the game.
“Ballyboden got caught a couple of years ago, O’Tooles too back in 2002, so we knew we were in for a huge challenge so we came down fully prepared and we knew we had to get over a huge hurdle.”
Mark admitted that last year there were different factors that could have been their downfall against Oulart, including winning their first Dublin title since 1994, which could have taken the sheen of the Leinster Championship. Also he admits they may not have prepared properly for the end of year weather conditions.
“We have definitely learned things.”
“Last year we got caught with the conditions but we probably handled it (there), it was freezing. Stuff like that we have learned.”
“We were probably a bit more experienced this year coming into it, we prepared better this year than we did last year. We know experience is invaluable at this time of year.”
O’Loughlin Gaels had a comfortable win in their county final against Ballyhale Shamrocks and an even more convincing Leinster Semi Final victory over reigning Champions Oulart-The Ballagh to reach next weeks Final.
“O’Loughlin Gaels have won a Leinster championship in the last few years as well so they are very experienced at this time of year too.”
“Kilkenny hurling is going to be the standard bearer in Leinster championships but we are not going to pay too much attention to who is favourites.”
“O’Loughlin Gaels are a quality team, it’s a Leinster final so you are not going to play an easy team there. We have looked at ourselves more than anyone else to this point and it was the same in the (Dublin) championship final.”